Friday, November 13, 2009

Misadventures and Twilight

Today, the morning radio show I listen to was interviewing a couple of the actors from the upcoming movie Twilight: New Moon. This brought me around to the idea that I ought to write down this story of my misadventures with the first movie, Twilight.

A confession: when the real serious craze around the books started, I decided to read them just to see what all the fuss was about. My wife had them sitting around the house, so what the hell.

And what I found was that while the writing is truly horrible, and yes featured shiny disco vampires, there was a certain truth about high school life captured in them - the sense of school as a microcosm, the all-encompassing importance of your first love, etc. I've made it through the first three books, and attempted to tackle the fourth but it was just too awful.

So anyway, the first movie came out, and my wife Jen and our friend Loxie wanted to go see the very first showing, at midnight of opening "day." Sure, what the hell, I thought. I liked the book ok, and Kristen Stewart is hot in a makes-me-feel-like-a-dirty-old-pervert sort of way.

We waited in the long line with our Fandango'd tickets. When we got in, Jen and Loxie said, "Go save us some seats, we'll get snacks and stuff." Yeah, great idea.

I walked into the theater, which was already mostly full. I expected lots of teenage girls to be there, but it was overwhelming. There were maybe - I say, maybe - four other men in the whole theater, all sitting with wives and/or teenage daughters. There were perhaps three or four teenage boys there, and all seemed to be with a girlfriend. The rest? All female, and only about 1 in 8 of those was an adult.

I walked in, a grown man, with no female accompaniment. No daughter, no wife, nothing.

Everyone was watching me. It was like they were waiting for me to attempt to kidnap and/or molest some girl, right there in the theater.

I found three seats together. Slowly and calmly I sat down in the middle of the three and put my hat in the seat on the left and my coat in the seat on my right, trying to make it as obvious as possible that yes, there were other people with me and I was just saving seats for the ladies who would be along shortly.

This accomplished nothing. Girls were still turning around and glaring at me while, I suspect, gripping the pepper spray in their purses that their fathers gave them. Mothers walked their daughters to the only remaining seats, way in the front, and on seeing me sitting there widened their eyes considerably.

I was getting paranoid. I was sure some mother had already dialed 9-1 on her phone and was just waiting for me to ask a little girl if she'd like some candy. I felt like at any moment I was going to be arrested and charged with "Watching Twilight without a teenage daughter," a Class A felony for sure, and have to register as a sex offender for the rest of my life.

I thought maybe I should be looking for Chris Hansen to pop out.

Finally, the women showed up and took their seats. I still got some evil glares.

Sitting through the movie was weird too, as every time "Edward" or "Jacob" would appear, there would just be this collective sigh accompanied by some squealing. However, it was a welcome relief from being stared at like I was Freddy fucking Kruger.

When the ordeal was over I explained to Jen and Loxie about the pre-movie freakiness. They laughed heartily, and promised that we would do it again when New Moon came out. Awesome.

New Moon is about to come out. Loxie is going to be away in New York visiting family, but Jen says she's going to make me go anyway. She's the boss, so I guess I'm doomed to it.

Someone please call up "To Catch a Predator" and let them know I'm harmless. Please?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SteamCon 2009

This past week I took Friday off from work to attend SteamCon, the cleverly-named Steampunk convention here in Seattle. It was the first iteration of this convention, and succeeded well enough that the organizers have already started selling passes for SteamCon 2010. And yes, I already have one for next year.

Friday off meant I had a chance to do something I rarely get to do...have lunch at Salumi, one of my two favorite restaurants in Seattle (the other being Morton's). Salumi is owned and run by Armandino Batali, a retired Boeing engineer and father of my chef-hero, Mario Batali. After retiring from Boeing, Armandino spent a few years touring Italy and learning to cure meats in traditional Italian fashion. Then he opened up this wonderful little restaurant where he makes his own cured meats and serves them up as sandwiches with delicious soups on the side. Sadly, Salumi is only open Tuesday through Friday during the day. Since I work banker's hours, it is rare that I get to go. I had the salumi sandwich, basically just straight up salami, and shared a bowl of the wonderful black bean soup they were serving that day. Lunch:

After that, it was off to SteamCon to get our badges and such. We spent some time (and some money) in the Vendor's Market, where Jen got a very cute hat and some suspenders to help steampunk-ify her look. Didn't get to spend too much time at the Con Friday as we had something to go to at the boy's school, but did hang out with good ol' Travis:

And I also got to meet (albeit very briefly) one of my favorite steampunk "makers," Jake Von Slatt. Poor bastard was pretty jet-lagged and tired from travel, so I tried not to bother him for too long - just a quick handshake and a "love your work." Unfortunately, in my attempt to not be too annoying, I completely ignored the beautiful Libby Bulloff, with whom Von Slatt was sitting down for a drink. I was unintentionally rude to her, and felt bad about it afterward.

Saturday, back to the Con. Hung out with Charley during the day - he couldn't get a pass to the Con, but he hung out anyway. The kids (mine and Charley's) were pretty mental and out of control, but wehad some fun anyway.

Sat in on one panel, the talk by Tim Powers, author of (among other things) The Anubis Gates. He was very smart, engaging, and amusing. I asked him a couple of questions, which he answered intelligently. There was one confession I couldn't make to him, though - I've never actually read any of his books. I have a copy of The Anubis Gates, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Still, it was awesome to listen to a smart novelist talk about writing.

It was the only panel I actually made it to in the whole Con. Oh well. I was mostly too busy just hanging out with the other Steampunks and checking out costumes. And of course hanging out with SteamRats -

The amazing artist Molly, a.k.a. Porkshanks:

Beth (a.k.a. Befu) and Eliana:

Guy (middle) and more:

I also sat in on the tag end of the performance by Robert Rial's Bakelite 78, an old-timey jazzy kind of band, who were very good. These lovely young ladies were dancing to Robert's tunes:

After that, went to dinner with the missus, the boy, Travis, his girl Terri, and friends Cat and Michael:

We went to a hibachi restaurant recommended by Travis and Terri. It was good stuff.

Then back to the Con for the concert of Unwoman, Vernian Process, and Abney Park. Unwoman was talented but not my kind of thing. Vernian Process was very loud and sounded like a cross between Depeche Mode and the music of Nightmare Before Christmas.

While the first couple of acts were going, I shook hands with and talked to Nathaniel Johnstone, guitarist/violinist for Abney Park, and discussed our shared roots in the Scottish clan Johnstone. When I went up to him, he was with the afore-mentioned Libby Bulloff. I had wanted to apologize to her for being unintentionally rude before, but I hesitated and she walked off before I was done talking to Nathan. Now she probably thinks I'm a jerk, which of course isn't far from the truth, but in this case I actually was trying not to be a jerk.

The truth? I have trouble getting up the nerve to say hello to her in the first place because I find her to be intimidatingly beautiful. I'm such a nerd.

I've seen Abney Park live once before, and they do put on a pretty good show. I enjoyed seeing them again.

Not ready to sleep after the concert, it was up to a hotel room with some of the SteamRats to hang out for awhile, which was one of the more enjoyable parts of the Con for me, actually. Once they started getting sleepy, I headed off to my own hotel room and conked out.

Along the way, I also got to briefly meet a few folks from the Brass Goggles forum that I have frequented for some time. Didn't get nearly as many pictures as I wanted. Oh well.

All in all, I had a great time and am looking forward to next year's Con.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Quick post of amusing things

Things I've found amusing lately:

Shhh Don't Tell Steve: college-age guy tweeting (I hate saying that) about his loser roommate's life without the knowledge of said roommate.

I'm dead and it's all my fault: Doug blogs the last words of his foolhardy friend, daily. Hard to explain, easy to laugh at.

How many people are in space right now?: Pretty self explanatory, and pretty awesome.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Wacko - Rogue helicopter pilots!

This guy has to be seen to be believed. Watch to the end, that's where the real payoff is.

Friday, August 21, 2009

And then, there are things you just shouldn't do

Let's say you're doing something that is really fun, but you know would get you in trouble if you were caught. Like fired from your job, or go to jail trouble. What you definitely should not do is take pictures or video of it.

This lesson was recently learned by a cop in Texas (and three of his fellow officers) when he had a hot waitress pose on his patrol car, holding his rifle. That's not a euphemism, but I'm guessing he was hoping it would become one.

Now, I have to admit, I like this photo:

But really, was it worth his job? Possibly his career? Because that's what he stands to lose.

If you're up to no good, enjoy it, but put away the camera.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

There are things you just can't do, part 2

I've written before that there are just some things you can't do.

I have another to add to the list. You see, earlier this week I was at the pet store, and I saw this huuuuge tattooed biker-looking guy walking to his huuuuge truck, looking all tough and super-butch, except...he was carrying bags from Trader Joe's next door. You just cannot look tough and manly shopping at Trader Joe's.

"Wooo, tough guy, you going to dip some chips in some tahini? Maybe some organic hummus?"

It just can't be done. And the same can be said for PCC or Whole Foods.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Movie Review: District 9

Two movies in two nights. Crazy.

So last night we went to the midnight showing of District 9.

My thoughts: it was awesome.

This isn't some cheesed-up alien movie. The film is actually quite thoughtful and pretty heavy. It will make you uncomfortable, and that's a good thing. I've read some criticism that the story did not explain the aliens well enough, and that is valid. But I didn't feel it was a cop-out like some reviewers felt. The reasons behind the aliens' unwillingness or inability to rise above their slum conditions and integrate with society are hinted at, but not broadly explained. If you aren't paying attention to the more subtle themes, you might not catch it.

It's easy, though, to miss the more subtle elements, as director Neill Blomkamp (whom I've written about before) fills his first feature-length film with intense visuals and action. Parts of the movie borders on overwhelming, but that worked for me.

The main (human) character in the movie is portrayed very well as a flawed, vulnerable human, which makes the movie both harder and easier to watch.

For the squeamish, I do warn that there are some gross-out scenes (the missus, definitely squeamish, said there were "about five shots that weren't gross-out"). Also there is a fair amount of "shaky-cam" action going on, so sit back a little further from the screen if you get motion sickness and don't want to taste your popcorn twice.

All in all, loved it, and heartily recommend it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chick Flick Night movie review

Last night after work, the missus declared her desire to go to the theater to view a film. Upon asking which film, I was told "Julie & Julia".

Now, I had already stated my willingness to go see this blatant chick flick because it looked amusing and endearing.

I know I lost manpoints for merely typing that last sentence, so I shall press on and tell you that it really was an ok movie. It was definitely not bad, and I enjoyed it.

I enjoyed it partly because it was about, on some level, cooking and food, two subjects near and dear to my fat, cholesterol-clogged heart. Mostly, though, the movie was really made by Meryl Streep playing Julia Child, and to a lesser degree Stanley Tucci playing her husband Paul.

The movie bounces back and forth between two stories: on the one hand, it tells the story of Julia Child living in France in the 1950s and learning to cook at the Cordon Bleu academy and writing the book that made her famous, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This part of the movie is based on Child's book, My Life in France. On the other hand, it tells the story of Julie Powell, a cube-farm-dwelling 30-year-old in 2002, who blogged her experience cooking her way through all of the recipes in the aforementioned Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

While Amy Adams (who plays Julie Powell) is cute and her half of the movie gives modern audiences something to relate to, the film belongs to Streep and her portrayal of Child. This is unavoidable, though, as you have Streep - an experienced and indisputable master of her craft - compared with Adams, a much younger and less experienced Hollywood "cute" actress. And this parallels the roles they play - Child, a brilliant chef who changed the face of American cooking, versus Powell, a blogger who got a book deal during the blog-to-book-deal craze that swept up this guy but inexplicably missed me and the other authors of the awesomest blog ever, Billy Ocean, Student Council Treasurer.

What it boils down to is that I could have watched a whole movie of Streep playing Child; the same could not be said of Adams playing Powell. The "modern" half of the movie doesn't detract from the film, but it doesn't add anything either.

But guys, if your woman wants you to go see this, it won't be unbearable. Go, make her happy. And hopefully you're like me and have a woman who is also a sci-fi buff and really wants to go see District 9 as well.

(Also, if you're looking forward to District 9, but haven't seen the director's short Alive in Joburg that inspired District 9, check it out now - plus his other short Tetra Vaal)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday Wacko: Philip Schneider

This one was brought to my attention via Metafilter. Philip Schnieder claimed to have worked as an engineer on secret underground bases in New Mexico. He died of a stroke in 1996, but hsi fellow UFO conspiracy nuts claim he was murdered because he was revealing information about the government's secret relationship with aliens. Despite the fact that he also claimed the government was at war with the aliens, apparently underground:

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What is "Cognitive Dissonance," Alex?

From today's Politics section on

And then from today's Business section on

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rant: my pet peeve, poor writing.

I'm a writer. It is what I do for a living, as a hobby, and just as part of my nature. As such, I am constantly aggravated by the lack of regard for the skill of writing that I encounter at every turn. Even so-called professionals in the field of journalism hurt my brain on a regular basis with idiotic phrases and poorly thought out sentences. CNN and MSNBC regularly publish crap so poorly written that I want to take a hammer to someone's typing hand to put an end to their horrible writing.

As if that would do any good. They'd just dictate their crap.

I will give you an example of how someone mistakes writing something that "sounds good" for actual good writing. This one was on a popular Web site, so I don't expect too much, but it just tweaked me:

Let's ignore the "looks like more like" phrase. That's a clearly stupid error. The more insidious problem is: "more like a work of art than an architectural masterpiece."

Merriam-Webster defines "architecture" as "The art or practice of designing a building". So an "architectural masterpiece" damn well better look "like a work of art." If you're going to compare something to another thing that it isn't, you ought to be sure that it isn't actually that thing.

This is what gets my blood pressure up the most when I'm reading. Not grammatical or spelling errors, but things that don't make sense or clearly weren't thought out properly.

I know I shouldn't care and I should just let it go, but if I give up hope that my fellow humans will learn to write properly, then I will have to give up hope in my fellow humans altogether.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mopar, More Power

Some time ago, I test drove the bad-ass 2007 Dodge Charger R/T. It was pretty cool.

Since then, though, Dodge has gone retro again, offering up a new Dodge Challenger. The original Challenger and it's Plymouth counterpart the Barracuda ranked in my top 5 favorite muscle cars. I haven't gotten to test drive one of the new ones yet, sadly. And now Jay Leno has made me think I wouldn't be happy driving one of the stock ones now that Hurst is making a supercharged 09 Dodge Challenger mod.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reading list

I'm a big fan of reading. Without, one's brain atrophies, and one learns little. Even fiction can be educational, exposing you to new philosophies and ways of thinking. On the Road resonated with my soul, Naked Lunch changed my whole concept of what "narrative" and "story" meant. Catch-22 changed my perception of what WW II was all about.

I've never been in danger of running out of things I want to read. Recently, though, I decided to start a reading list to codify what it is I want to read, and what I should select next. It is a mix of old and new, fiction and non-fiction. Next on the list is No Surrender: My Thirty Year War, the autobiography of Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who emerged from the Philipinne jungle in 1974. He spent 30 years dodging U.S. military, Philipinnos, and even Japanese trying to get him to surrender; all because he believed WW II was still going on and claims that the war was over were just tricks used by the "enemy".

So I put to you, all both of my readers, what do you suggest I add to my list? Throw 'em out there.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

When good artists go bad

I'm a big fan of Tony Iommi and his work, and am very glad I got to see the original Black Sabbath line-up in concert (twice!). I am also, quite unapologetically, a fan of Billy Idol. However, today I stumbled across a song they did together on Iommi's "solo" album Iommi from 2000, which I didn't even know existed...and it's just so bad. Not even "so bad it's good." More like Huey Lewis and the News' song "Bad is Bad".

Yes, I did just reference Tony Iommi, Billy Idol, and Huey Lewis (and the News!) in one post. And yes, I am also unapologetically a fan of Huey Lewis and the News.

So, I present for your listening...what should I say? Unpleasantness? Torture? What's the opposite of listening enjoyment? Anyway, here's Tony Iommi with Billy Idol, "Into the Night":

Friday, June 26, 2009

Long weird week

So yeah. It's been a strange week, and a long one. I've been busy as hell with work and such, and all that. Trying to train my newest co-worker and doing two or three people's jobs all at the same time. Feh.

I'm going to babble and rant here, and it's a long one, so go get a snack and a juicebox.


But, on the upside, I did get my machine to treat my sleep apnea, so that's been interesting. I've only slept with it on two nights now, but I definitely feel a difference already. Yesterday I was able to get through my day at work with about 3-4 fewer cups of coffee than I normally drink, and I wasn't nodding off at all. I also didn't fall asleep in the car going to work or going home. So yay, I'm happy about this.

Most folks with sleep apnea severe enough for the "machine" get a CPAP, which just blows a constant flow of air at a set pressure into the mask. Those lucky, lucky ones who are too bad off get a BiPAP. The BiPAP has a sensor that knows when you're exhaling, and lowers the pressure until you inhale again. This is for those who need an air pressure so high to keep their airway open that they wouldn't be able to exhale against it effectively.

Guess who needed a BiPAP? That's right, yours truly. It's kind of cool though. The pressure changes help me get to sleep by providing a nice rhythm (why the fuck does "rhythm" have that extra "h"? I had to double-check my spelling because it didn't look right, and that doesn't happen to me much). Inhale loud machine noise, exhale quieter machine noise. Inhale loud, exhale quieter. Repeat until unconscious.

The first night went great. I only awakened once, because the dog woke up and needed to go out. Usually I wake up 1 to 5 times on my own, so this was miraculous. Also, I had not moved, not one bit. This presented a problem, as when I awoke my whole right side was numb. It took about an hour to get the feeling 100% back in my right hand. Awesome! Second night was ok, but not as good as the first. Oh well. Everybody tells me this takes time - even though I feel better already.

Anyway, enough about that. What else made the week weird? Well...

Dead Celebrities
Warning: I may piss you off with this part

It's well-known amongst those who know me that I run a friendly little "Dead Pool" competition each year. As a result, my friends, family, co-workers, and people I barely know have gotten into the habit (which I strangely encourage) of immediately informing me of any celebrity death announcements, and ask me if anyone had the celebrity in question on their list.

This week, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson all died. All were on somebody's list in the competition. Farrah and Michael? Same day.

I was busy at work, and suddenly I have the second job of fielding chat, phone, and e-mail inquiries about the Dead Pool status. I was busier than a date rapist at a sorority party.

I get called morbid, sick, disgusting, ghoulish, cold, soulless, heartless, callous, and just plain mean for running my annual competition, and it doesn't bother me one bit. And this week, I feel like explaining why that is.

You see, we're talking about celebrities. People I don't know. People you don't know. People your cousin's friend tells you he knows, but he's lying about it. The people who do know these celebrities don't know me, and they don't read my blog or my Facebook status and they aren't participating in my Dead Pool competition. So I'm not rubbing someone's death in the face of those who knew them, cared about them, had a personal relationship with them. What I am doing is amusing myself with the concept of death, because for someone who spends any amount of time contemplating their existence (and, by extension, contemplating their own mortality), it's either amuse yourself with the concept of death or live in paralyzing fear of it. I laugh at death!

In our current culture, many people feel like they have a personal connection with celebrities. They become personally vested in the life of this person they've never met. So they seem to develop this illusion that I'm rubbing their face in their favorite celebrity's death. That I'm hurting them somehow.

Now I'm certainly not above having my feelings vested in a celebrity I don't even know. Witness my feelings about the death of Hunter S. Thompson. However, I don't get so vested that I think of some slight to them as a slight to me. And that's where I part company with those who say I'm heartless.

Also, there's the fact that every time a celebrity dies, somebody is going to call it tragic. Even if said celebrity was 110 years old. Yes, maybe it is tragic to those who actually knew and loved the person - but you and I? We are having a relationship with a public persona, not the human. I feel bad for those who had a real relationship with that person, because they lost someone, but death happens to everyone. We all experience the loss of loved ones in our life, and we don't expect someone who never met said loved one to cry about it.

There is one way I will call a celebrity death tragic, and that is if the person had much to left to give their art/science/profession/whatever but was cut short. It's the art, the science, or what have you that these people are contributing to our lives, and I agree that those things can add value to our lives and give us a reason to feel vested in that celebrity. Hence my feelings about Thompson - his writings added some meaning to my life. Still, I don't view his death as tragic, because his prime was over, and he wasn't going to be writing another Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or anything any time soon.

And this is where my little tangent converges with this week's celebrity deaths.

I've heard some guys lamenting the passing of Farrah Fawcett, because she was their first celebrity crush or what-have-you. And I get that. But why mourn her death if the part of her you care about was how she looked 30 years ago? Did you really get turned on by 60-year-old Farrah? I doubt it. And let's face it, she was never a serious or talented actress, she was a sex symbol. When your most critically serious role was the template for every LifeTime Channel movie ever made, you don't have a lot of credibility as an artist. So, tragic for her family and loved ones? Yes, in this day and age 62 is young to die. For the rest of the world? Not so much.

Then there's Jackson. Sure, he was a cute kid who could sing, and made a bunch of music that a whole lot of people inexplicably (to me anyway) love. But the music he was famous for was done over 20 years ago. He was planning a comeback tour, but do you think he was going to recapture the Thriller days? Wasn't going to happen, my friend. And then there's the biggest reason his death was no tragedy: one less child molester in the world. If you have ever complained that O.J. got away with murder but claim the King of Pedophilia - oh, so sorry, I mean "King of Pop" - was just "misunderstood," you are one delusional hypocrite.

Enough of my bloviating. Done for now. Mattbear out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Two Wheels are better than Four

It's Wednesday now, so maybe I've rested enough to write about my weekend. The weekend wore me out; I had to go back to work Monday in order to chill out.

Last Thursday after work, I headed straight for my Novice Riders Motorcycle Safety Course. Thursday was three hours of class time, and largely quite boring. From the class, it was straight home and to bed to get up for work Friday morning.

Friday was work, and then straight from work to my second sleep study - this time they needed to fit me with the right mask and get the air pressure set right. Saturday morning was straight from my sleep study to my motorcycle class.

Saturday's class was half riding time, half class time. Much more fun, and more intimidating. During Saturday's riding time, one woman went a little out of control on her motorcycle and actually bumped into my back tire. I kept my bike upright and perfectly safe, for which I received kudos from the instructor. Unfortunately, it meant the woman failed out of the course immediately. At the end of classroom time, we took the written test, which I totally kicked ass on. I only missed one question, and in fact had initially chosen the correct answer but started doubting myself and went back and changed it. If I hadn't done that, I would have aced it with 100%.

Straight from my motorcycle class to my weekly poker game, where my wife won. She played well and deserved it, while I made a few huge mistakes that cost me the game. From the poker game, it was home to sleep for a whopping four hours before getting up and heading to my motorcycle class again.

Sunday's class was all riding time, topped off by the riding test. The riding test starts with figure-eights, which I had done poorly on during practice. Sure enough, I blew the figure-eights in the test. What's more, the first test was figure-eight followed immediately by the "swerve to avoid danger" maneuver. I had done fine on that in practice, but in the test I was so thrown off by how massively I screwed up the figure-eight that I messed up on the swerve. The rest of the test I did fine on, but I was sure I had failed.

I was second in line to do the test, so I was also second in line to get my score. Lo and Behold, I passed, with an 84 out of possible 100 (and a passing score of 80). I actually had to verbally verify with the instructor that I passed, so great was my disbelief, and I cheered loudly when he confirmed my passing score. Yippeeee!

So now I can go to the DOL and get my motorcycle endorsement just by handing them the card the instructor gave me saying I passed. Then, it's just a question of getting my old clunker motorcycle up and running again. And then going somewhere relatively safe and doing some practice - lots of practice - because passing by just 4% doesn't seem that great.

Monday, June 01, 2009

My weekend; or, "How often do I stop breathing when I sleep?"

I had an interesting weekend. It started with a sleep study.

For some time, I've known I had sleep apnea, a condition in which one stops breathing every so often when one is asleep. This prevents one from getting to the lowest layers of sleep, where one actually gets rest.

My father-in-law was diagnosed with severe apnea years ago, and has since slept wearing a mask attached to a CPAP machine. This machine forces air into your airways, keeping them open and preventing the apnea.

I have been resistant to the Darth-Vader-esque sleeping machine, and refused for years to get my apena diagnosed and treated. The main reason is, it seems once you start with the machine, you can't sleep without it. Vacation? Have to lug it with you. Camping? Forget about it.

A couple of months ago, I realized that I was getting more and more tired - nodding off in meetings at work, never having any energy, unable to drive more than a few blocks wihout getting drowsy. I went to see my doctor, worried there was something wrong with my thyroid. It took him all of 30 seconds to determine: "Nope, it's your apnea." I was scheduled to see their sleep disorder specialist, and given a little questionairre to fill out.

I filled out the questionairre and saw the sleep specialist. It took him about 30 seconds to say, "Yep, you have apnea; let's get you scheduled for a sleep study." He then explained how it would work: I would spend a night at the hospital all wired up. They would study the data to determine if for sure I had apnea. Then I would come back for another night a couple of weeks later and spend the night, while they fitted the mask and adjusted the machine to fit my needs. BUT, if the apnea was bad enough, they could fit me for the mask the first night. The doc was pretty confident mine was bad enough.

So, last Friday. I get off work, wait for my wife, she picks me up and we head to the hospital. We were rushing so I forgot I was supposed to eat dinner before I got there. As a result, I wound up eating in the hospital cafeteria (while my Judas of a wife went to one of my favorite Seattle restaurants and got my favorite dish). Since I went down there to eat, I was the last patient to get hooked up for the monitors, so my sleep study didn't start until 11pm.

A nice young lady came in and asked me to sit in a chair. I sat down and she started glueing and taping electrodes to my scalp, chest, etc. - I even had to run two pairs of wires through my shorts to connect to my legs. She told me I could turn the TV on if I wanted, as it would take about 20 minutes. I just smiled and sat there. I am used to haivng my wife shave my head every so often, and having to sit still for 15-20 minutes. It puts me in a Zen sort of state.

I wish I could have gotten a picture of what I looked like when she was done. Easily 20 wires were coming off me, all attached to a little blue box she plugged into the wall when she had me lay down. The wires were a nuisance as I tried to sleep, but they couldn't stop me from sleeping. I was too tired. Every time I woke up and needed to go to the bathroom, I had to sit up, say something out loud, and wait for her to come help me. She would unplug the little blue box from the wall and hang it, with all the wires, around my neck. When I was done, she would come back in the room and take the box off me and plug it back into the wall as I lay down.

There was no clock in the room, so I never knew what time it was or how far through the sleep study I was. This was strange for me, as I obsess over what time it is and normally check every time I wake up. Eventually, the tech came in and woke me, and said the study was done.

I was surprised to find that they had not put the mask on me that night as the sleep specialist had figured. I mentioned this to the tech, and she explained: the doctors don't let them put the mask on past a certain time (about 2am) and it was about that time when they had the data they needed to go ahead with it. So, since I forgot to eat dinner before I went, I got started too late and now I have to go back for the mask fitting/machine setting/etc. Oh well.

The tech asked me how I slept. I told her it was the most soundly I had slept in weeks. It must not have been good, because this idea horrified her.

Between writing stuff about the sleep study on good ol' Facebook, and talking about it at the BBQ/Poker game I attended the next day, I found out that way more of my friends have CPAP machines then I was aware of. And they all wanted to know one thing: How many times did you quite breathing?

This seems to be a sort of badge of honor among those with sleep apnea (apneacs?) - how fucked up your breathing is makes you a more badass case.

Alas, the tech did not tell me how often I quit breathing, so I have no such badge.

Soon, I shall have my CPAP that I have dreaded all this time. But if it lets me sleep, and not be this tired all the time, I welcome it at this point.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Crazy Conspiracy Theories: only funny when they're about other people

One of my intellectual fascinations in this life is crazy conspiracy theories. I collect 'em like trading cards. Indeed, I've been thinking about reviving my old feature Wednesday Wackos on this blog.

Another of these unhealthy fascinations is serial killers. The whole "human monster" concept interests me. I've read about them, written about them, my favorite movie is about them. One of my teachers in college had met a particularly creepy serial killer, and I always loved his stories about the guy.

So it was with great interest that I read the story of a humble college professor who has been dogged by a crazy conspiracy theorist who believes the professor was the Zodiac Killer.

I never really thought before about what it must be like to be the target of some crazy's wacko theory. Usually it's somebody famous, like politicians, who gets themselves in the crosshairs of the tinfoil hat brigade. And usually the theory is so ridiculous, nobody takes it seriously.

But what if you're just Joe Blow, and the abject insanity of the theory gets glossed over by headlines? The professor sure seems to have taken it in stride that this nut has aimed at him, but I'm not so sure I could. I really suggest reading the professor's article, Confessions of a Non-Serial Killer.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Joss Whedon knows his hotties

I'm a fan of the show Dollhouse. Love it, love it, love it. When Fox announced they were going to renew Dollhouse, they also announced that they were not going to renew Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles. I immediately joked that it was fine with me, because then Joss Whedon could get Summer Glau and Eliza Dushku on Dollhouse.

Seems Joss was thinking the same damn thing.

There's a bit on sci-fi fan blog io9 that says he's already planning Summer's role in Dollhouse. I haven't read the article yet, because it contains some spoilers about what role she might play. I don't want to know, and don't want to let it interfere with my dream that she'll play a Dollhouse client who asks for Echo as the dominatrix.

The article, in case you want to read it, is here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Somebody at work has an Initech coffee mug, and just left it sitting on the breakroom counter. It took all my self-control not to hork it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why the Gov't. shouldn't bail out GM

There's been lots and lots of debate about the Federal bailout of the U.S. auto industry. I'm no economist, so I don't get too heated about it - but I do have one argument for letting GM go bankrupt. Ready?

GM decided to make a "personal transport" concept. They partnered up with (fucking) Segway and came up with this, which they've been touting at car shows:

Wow. I've seen backhoes with more style and panache.
And this is after Toyota has already been showing off - and planning to put into production - their "personal transport" concept called the iWheel (or iReal, depending on who you ask):

Explain to me again why GM deserves billions of taxpayer dollars? And how they will use it to turn around their company?

Friday, February 27, 2009

News Editors need to think more

I was reading MSNBC today, as I do most days, and a couple of headlines struck me funny:

OK, great. You're fact-checking Obama's speech. Maybe if you'd done a little more of that during the Bush presidency, we wouldn't be in Iraq right now, and the Shrub wouldn't have gotten a second term.

Then there was this:

I'm just thinking, if it was anybody but the President, some Secret Service agents are getting fired. ;)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some things that amuse me

Life for me is still too depressing for me to want to blog about it (how emo is that?). So I'm just going to post here some things I've found amusing recently.

F*** My Life is a great site where people post short, 1-4 line stories about why their life sucks. A lot of it is teenagers posting typical teen drama, but there are some real jems in there to provide some schadenfreude. My favorite so far:

"Today, I went to my first strip club for my friends birthday. I also found out what my girlfriend does for a living. FML"

(The "F***", by the by, is how they actually title their site. I personally have no problem saying "fuck". Fuck. Motherfucker. Fuckwad. Fucktard. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I use "fuck" as my own personal celebration of the First fucking Amendment.)

Passive-Aggressive Notes is a blog showing all those stupid notes people "anonymously" put up around the office bitching about stuff. Some funny stuff there.

And then, there's a conversation I had with some friends:

(we were discussing state politics)

Jeff: Whatever. I just want it to be legal for me to shoot Tim Eyman.

Me: We should start an Initiative!

Jeff: That would be fair...

Me: If we throw a tax cut into it, Eyman will back it himself!

(Erik comes up, Jeff tells him what we were saying)

Erik: I don't want to kill him...just kick his ass.

Jeff: I didn't say kill him...we could just wing him. We could make it a lottery! We could even hold it four times!

(Ok, I thought it was funny at least)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meme time: The Interviews

Getting on the meme train courtesy Wiwille and Mizzle:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

So, without further ado, Wiwille's interview of yours truly:

1. At approximatley what album should AC/DC have retired?

Ooooh, tough one to start with. I would say the decline started with Fly on the Wall, but there were still some good songs on various albums after. Razor's Edge was a good, solid album and return to form, but Brian Johnson's voice was pretty much shot already. What little I've heard from the recent Black Ice is ok but very commercial, so I am going to say they should have quit after touring for Razor's Edge, say around 1992.

2. If you were Emporer of world would you enact a law requiring people to pass a test in order to be able to procreate?

As appealing as that sounds, no, I wouldn't. I have a kid, and so I understand how people feel about their children, and could not violate parental rights in so arbitrary a manner.

3. Why do you enjoy reading Stephen King?

When he is at his best, he crafts some very tight stories, and they are easy to relate too. He captures human weakness very well, and plays on that. His descriptiveness and detail can contribute to very real settings and stories.

Unfortunately, at his worst, he just plains sucks. His biggest weakness is endings. The man cannot end a novel to save his life half the time.

4. If you were on death row what would you choose for your last meal? Please detail the main course, side dishes, and dessert.

I'm a simple man. For an appetizer, saganaki (Opa!). Ribeye steak, medium-medium rare, with grilled onions, sauted mushrooms, and some Lee & Perrins worcestershire on the side. Colcannon. Caesar salad. A decent glass of Shiraz.

And, because I have a weakness for sweets, a triple dessert: baklava, galaktoboureko, and Morton's legendary hot chocolate cake.


5. Why don't you post on The Inexcusable anymore?

I've been too busy, and life has just been too depressing and stressful to write about or do videos about lately. I am trying to drag myself out of that, and have sworn to myself that I will do more posts here. Starting today, with this one.

And now for my interview by Mizzle:

1. What is your favorite beverage?

Water. Seriously. If you mean alcoholic beverage, it varies between a good Shiraz, a White Russian, a Jack & Coke, or a Maker's & Ginger.

2. Who is your favorite TV or Movie character?

Hmmmm. Not real good at picking a single favorite anything.

TV: tie between The Doctor, of Doctor Who, and President Josiah Bartlett, of The West Wing.
Movie: tie between Raoul Duke, of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Hannibal Lecter of ManHunter/Silence of the Lambs/Hannibal/Red Dragon/Hannibal Rising.

3. What is in your personal hell?

I would be forced to watch alternating Michael Bay and Uwe Boll movies for eternity, but all their soundtracks would be replaced by ABBA albums, and I would have to sit between Paris Hilton and Ashton Kutcher while Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, and Dick Cheney had a messy three-way in the row in front of me.

4. Who needs to disappear quicker, Bill O'Reilly or Joan Rivers?

O'Reilly for sure. Rivers is just annoying. Bill O'Reilly is walking affront to humanity.

5. What is your least favorite movie?

There are so, so many to hate. I mean, I've watched Blair Witch Project 2, for god's sake. But the winner of this title is probably still a weird, little-known movie called Cold Heaven.

I mean, it starts out with a sex scene. OK, cool - for like 2 minutes. Then it gets preachy because she's cheating on her husband, played by Mark Harmon, whom I loathe, so booo - that lasts like 20 minutes. Then Mark Harmon gets hit in the head by a speed boat and dies. Yay dead Mark Harmon! - but that's only for like 2 minutes. Then she grieves, which is always boring on film, so boooo - that lasts another 30 minutes. Then Mark Harmon comes back from the dead! Yay Zombie Mark Harmon! - but that's like 5 minutes, and Zombie Mark Harmon disappears from the movie with no explanation. Then she sees a nun going into a church or something, only it's a nun who died like a century ago, and the church doesn't exist, and it all makes no sense, and at the end you're supposed to have learned some important spiritual lesson that even the christian who saw it with me didn't get - and that's like 50 minutes.